Newcastle Racecourse: Northumberland Plate Day

The city of Newcastle has many attractions, from the famous Bigg Market, to the beautiful architecture of the redeveloped Quayside and of course the intermittently entertaining football team. There are many reasons to visit, but as good as an excuse as any is to spend a day at Newcastle’s Gosforth Park racecourse.

Racing in Newcastle dates way back to the 1600s and the track currently plays host to many top events. The Eider Chase and Fighting Fifth Hurdle feature prominently on the jumps racing calendar, whilst the Chipchase Stakes and Northumberland Plate provide top quality fare for fans of the flat. Saturday 27th June saw the 2015 edition of the Northumberland Plate meeting. With myself suitably suited and booted, and the good lady wife in her finest red frock, we headed to the track to sample the action for ourselves.

Whilst the racecourse is situated close to the city centre, you could be forgiven for thinking you were much further away from the urban sprawl upon looking out over the track. The beautiful parkland estate on which it is situated provides a most scenic backdrop to the racing action.

In terms of the facilities we were greatly impressed by the range and quality of the fare on offer. With numerous bars and marquees spread around the course, you are never far away from that all important liquid refreshment. All tastes are catered for, with numerous lagers, ale from the sponsor John Smith’s, Champagne to celebrate those big wins and the list goes on. Pimm’s by the jug seemed to be a popular option on what was a scorching day.

Chances are you will also need something to eat in order to sustain you through all the racing and punting action. Never fear, Newcastle does not fall short in this area either. Hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, donuts and more are all readily available. We can personally recommend the pulled pork sandwich from The Brandling House – delicious! Restaurant bookings and hospitality packages are also an option for those wishing to really make a special occasion on their day at the track and are well priced too. If you are taking the little ones, Newcastle’s Family Foodhall offers an excellent range of family style meals at very reasonable prices. No doubt the kids will also make a bee-line towards The Pit Stop to pick up their supply of sweets for the day.

On to the racing and what was an excellent seven race card, offering a mix of maiden, handicapping and Group class action. My personal highlight of the day was bagging the winner in the opening maiden, for some it may have been the opportunity to see Group class sprinters in the flesh in the second race, but for the majority it was the Northumberland Plate itself which took centre stage. A race rich in heritage, having been established way back in 1833 and affectionately known as “The Pitmen’s Derby”, it never disappoints. Roger Charlton took the prize in a thrilling contest this year with Quest For More. Judging by the cheers from the stands as he crossed the line, there were a fair number of punters set to join Roger in toasting this winner…though sadly not me, despite having tipped Quest on this very site before a late change of heart on the day!

The fun didn’t end with the closing 4.55 contest, with a live band performing on stage after the conclusion of the final race. This proved to be a popular addition and a most enjoyable way in which to end the day, with a final drink or two or course!

We must also give a special mention to the ladies of Newcastle who brightened up the day magnificently. We were provided with Group class performers on the track in the Chipchase Stakes, but in truth the stands were packed with Group class fillies long before and after that sprint contest. An excellent effort all round!